Chemical burn or reaction
Chemicals that touch skin can lead to a reaction on the skin, throughout the body, or both.
Burn from chemicals
Chemical exposure is not always obvious. You should suspect chemical exposure if an otherwise healthy person becomes ill for no apparent reason, particularly if an empty chemical container is found nearby.
Exposure to chemicals at work over a long period of time can cause changing symptoms as the chemical builds up in the person's body.
If the person has a chemical in the eyes, see first aid for eye emergencies.
If the person has swallowed or inhaled a dangerous chemical, call a local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.
Depending on the type of exposure, the symptoms may include:
Note: If a chemical gets into the eyes, the eyes should be flushed with water right away. Continue to flush the eyes with running water for at least 15 minutes. Get medical help right away.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Levine MD. Chemical injuries. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 57.
Mazzeo AS. Burn care procedures. In: Roberts JR, Custalow CB, Thomsen TW, eds. Roberts and Hedges' Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine and Acute Care. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 38.
Rao NK, Goldstein MH. Acid and alkali burns. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 4.26.
Review Date: 9/23/2019
Reviewed By: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Emeritus, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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